wall street

A Brief History of Wall Street

Wall Street is one the world's most iconic financial landmarks.

It's a dramatic melting pot of fortunes gained, money lost, business bonds forged, and hard lessons learned and there aren't many people who don't know about Wall Street. But have you ever wondered how it all started? Let's take a quick look at Wall Street's history...

1644: Before New York City grew into a city, there was a big wall. The wall was built in lower Manhattan to protect the island from British Attacks, and the road alongside the wall was named Wall Street.

1685: Local surveyors laid out Wall Street as the original stockade. The wall began at Pearl Street, and, back then, merchants would gather and sell bonds and stocks curbside.

1792: On March 1792, twenty-four of NY's top merchants met secretly at Corre's Hotel to discuss ways to bring order to the securities business and to take it from their competitors, the auctioneers.

1792: On May of the same year, the same merchants signed a document named the Buttonwood Agreement. The Buttonwood agreement called for the signers to trade securities only among themselves, to set trading fees, and not to take part in other auctions of securities, which would eventually lead to the launch of the NYSE.

1817: The first stock exchange in America was founded in Philadelphia in 1790. The New York merchant group, realizing that their stock exchange was dwindling, sent an undercover merchant to Philadelphia in early 1817. Upon his return, bearing news of the thriving Philadelphia exchange, the New York Stock and Exchange Board was officially born on March 8, 1817.

1907: After J.P Morgan made a merger with U.S Steel in 1901, panic struck Wall Street. Eight hundred million dollars in securities were unloaded within a few months, stock prices hit the floor, and runs on banks became a daily occurrence.

1913: Authorities proposed a $4 tax on stock transfers, and stock clerks protested. At other times, city and state officials took steps through tax incentives to encourage financial firms to carry on doing business in the city. Corporate culture towards the government was turbulent, to say the least.

1920: On September 16, right by the corner of Wall and Broad Street, the busiest corner of the financial district, and across the offices of the Morgan Bank, a bomb exploded, killing 38 and seriously injured 143 people. The culprits were never caught.

1945: Despite hardships and setbacks, Wall Street became the official financial capital of the world. After the bombing of Japan, the country surrendered to the US, marking the end of World War II. The United States now has more global trading than ever and enters a fresh era of prosperity, with New York City becoming a global financial and cultural capital.

1962: Panic selling occurred after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Following the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Wall Street, as well as the stock exchange, closed immediately after the news hit. This method was to prevent another crisis.

1971: NASDAQ was born. In February of this year, the NASDAQ became the world’s first electronic stock market. The exchange currently lists 2,975 companies and boasts a market cap of around $8.5 trillion.

1987: Recession hit the nation. The stock market crashed, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 508 points or 22.61 percent, making it the largest one-day percentage drop in history This day was officially marked as "Black Monday".

1994: The first internet stock happened. The trade was completed by K. Aufhauser & Company, Inc. This deal launched a new era of online stock trading and would later lead to the revolution of the online broker.

2008: Perhaps one of the most dramatic times in Wall Street's history, The Bush Administration’s proposed $700 billion bailout for American banks is declined by the House of Representatives. Consequently, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a near-778-point hit. The 7% drop is the biggest in history, with an equivalent loss of over $1 trillion. In October, the House reversed its decision in favor of the bailout, but investor confidence had already been knocked and the market didn't rally back.

Wall Street is a resilient place and today it thrives once more. If you deal in stocks and shares or you're looking to become a financial guru, knowing this information will provide excellent foundations for the career that lies ahead.


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